The hardest part of starting an investigation is finding a topic that you not only like but is interesting to the audience and relevant to the area under study. The right question motivates and disciplines the research process. Asking a question is the springboard for discovery. The question helps you advance the research. From the general question, the subsidiary questions will probably flow. It doesn’t have to be the perfect question, after all, you’re researching the unknown. It also doesn’t have to be accurate, but it shouldn’t be too general. We can even hypothesize and several alternative hypotheses. Sometimes events will lead us down unexpected paths. We must remember that the world is a complex place.
This is one of the most difficult challenges in conducting research. We must continue to be skeptical as we go, and we must also be open to evidence as it emerges. This is particularly important if we have political views or personal involvement regarding the research topic.
Difference between a topic and the title of the research
A topic is broad and general, such as Education, Sports or Cinema for example, which are too big to be the focus of the research work. We must search within the broad subject area to find the title of the research.
The title of the research must be more focused, more precise. It is a narrower subset. For example, if the topic is general education, we could investigate whether female students in girls’ schools perform better academically than their counterparts in co-educational schools.
How we can start the investigation
At this initial stage, we must take stock of what we do not know and write down what we would like to discover. Put another way, what facts would shed more light on our hypothesis?
In the same way, according to Bolker (1998), we must explore what has already been written on the subject. As we read, we should try to learn about: the basic facts of the topic, its history and relevant figures, key terms and definitions) and the key actors. In this regard, we must remember the classic questions: Who? What? Where? When? And why?
As we move forward, we must continue to ask are there public documents or data and where? What non-public documents or data might exist? Where are documents and data stored? Who is involved? How are they connected? What vested interests exist? What can people tell you about it? Where did things happen physically? What are the consequences? Who benefits and who doesn’t? As we dig deeper, your goals will no doubt be refined. In this regard we must consider the schedule What activities can take more time, such as a trip to a site or an official request for documents? Finally, we must make a timeline of next steps for planning purposes and setting priorities.
In Online-tesis.com,we can help you from the choice of the topic and the title of the research, to the presentation and defense of it. We know it can be difficult to get started and our experts are here to advise you throughout the process,
Steps to choose the title of the research
- Choose a topic area that interests you and will interest readers. It is important to choose a topic of an academic nature. In other words, a topic that can be researched and that other people feel passionate enough to discuss.
- Do background research on encyclopedias, books, and websites. This will provide you with an overview so that you better understand the subject area and can see what issues are related. For example, you may be interested in the topic of social media. If you look up the definition of social media in an encyclopedia, you could talk about related topics, such as privacy or bullying. Then you can decide to focus on the topic of social media and privacy.
- It’s a good idea to present the topic in question form to stay focused on what we’re trying to explain or test. For example, if you want to research advertising and body image among teenagers, we can ask: What impact does advertising have on adolescent girls’ body image?
- When you come up with a topic, choose the main concepts in your research question and perform an initial search with them in the Library Catalog. If you get a lot of results, you may need to limit your topic more. If you don’t get enough results, you may need to expand on the topic. We may try by particular period or time, specific population or group, geographic region or specific discipline or approach, such as legal, economic, historical, etc.
- Once we are confident that we have a manageable topic that is interesting and that we have enough research that you can use in your work, create a thesis statement. This will be an answer to your research question or a statement explaining the purpose of your research.
According to Philips and Pugh (2003), font mapping is the next stage of the process. We must identify who the key players in the story are and any related documents. For every detail, we can use the principle of two sources, which means that we must rely on two sources to confirm the same information. These sources will serve as background experts and can be primary or secondary.
They are sources that provide first-hand evidence or relate direct experience. For example, a foreman at the water plant, who was told to do purity checks once a month instead of once a week, to address the problem of controls in the area. Primary sources, as long as they have been verified and you have made sure they are authentic, are the most valuable sources because they provide direct evidence.
Secondary sources include all kinds of published materials, including organizational reports and second-hand information (of the type “I had a friend who…”). These sources are valuable, particularly for establishing context and background, as they help explain problems and provide clues. However, any evidence you draw from them, as well as the person from whom they originated, must be verified.
They would be the direct actors, eyewitnesses, experts and stakeholders. We need to make sure we understand the credentials and motivations of the people we deal with. Therefore, we must seek a wide variety of points of view. If you’re talking to people in a community, we need to make sure the selection is demographically representative: women, men, young, old, from diverse income and interest groups.
It includes books, newspapers and magazines, official records, and business documents such as contracts and bank statements. This may include “gray” material or material that is widely distributed but may never have been published or is officially confidential. We should not overlook obvious sources of paper: directories and phone books.
It includes information on the web and digitally stored records. The amount of information available online is very wide, but, as with any other source, we need to check where the information comes from, as well as your credentials and possible motives. In addition, web information often remains online for a long time; and it may be obsolete material. Therefore we should always check the most recent sources.
Once we dive into the sources, it can be easy to get carried away in the search for information and lose sight of why you’re doing all the research. As a responsible researcher we must plan not only how we will begin to collect information, but also how it will lead us to a conclusion.
Managing your time
Given the limited time for research, how can we make the most of information-gathering efforts? Aside from learning to write effectively, we must also learn to read quickly and efficiently while conducting research. We don’t need to analyze every word and if we did, we would slow down a lot. At the same time, if we routinely skip large printed sections and only focus on the index or images we can miss out on valuable examples that could inspire you.
How can we know when to read and when to pay attention to details?
One strategy is to search for summaries before spending time reading an entire article. Search the indexes to identify the key terms we want to cover before removing them as we get involved in the topic.
Sometimes a source that doesn’t look very promising can offer key information that will get us to an important point. If you’ve done a good job of registering sources, it will be easy to return to a site that we overlooked at first.
Compiling the information
Compilation involves composing the document with materials from the sources consulted. This process has seven main steps, adapted from Andrews, P. H., Andrews, J. and Williams, G. (1999): sensitivity, exposure, assimilation and accommodation, incubation, incorporation, production and revision.
It refers to the ability to respond to stimulation, be excited, respond, or be susceptible to new information. If you are intrigued by a topic or area of interest, your enthusiasm will be conveyed to your document and make it more stimulating for the reading public.
It involves the condition that you are presented with points of view, ideas or experiences that will be made known to you through direct experience.
Assimilation and adaptation
They refer to the processes by which new ideas are assimilated (or integrated) into thought patterns and accommodate (or adopt, adapt, or filter) new sources of information as they relate to the objective.
It is the process by which an idea develops in the mind. This may not happen all at once and it may be a while while we analyze the new information. This may involve further research and exploration, or it may involve withdrawing from active research to “digest” or “incubate” what you have already learned.
It refers to the process by which information is brought to a complete or complete topic. In this phase we will begin to see how the pieces will be put together and the basis for their development of the organization of the document will be formed. This will help you produce a coherent and organized message that the audience can follow clearly.
It involves the act of creating the document from the elements we have gathered. We can begin to consider what comes first, what’s last, and how we’ll link ideas and examples. We may find that we need additional information and that we need to go back to the notes we’ve taken.
It is the process by which it is revised again to correct or improve the message. We will notice elements that need more research, development or additional examples and visual aids. Knowledge of the content, audience, and purpose of the rhetorical situation will guide you through the review process and contribute to the production of a more effective document.
Leave enough time before the deadline so that you can sketch out a detailed outline and draft of the document and stop reviewing it for at least a day. When you look at it again, it will probably be clear which additional details need more support, and we can conduct specific research to fill in those gaps.
Among the most common mistakes researchers make is not starting with a thorough search of what has already been published. We should look for news reports, academic reports, government records, local archives, and other sources of published information, until we are sure we have a complete understanding of what already exists. The modern impulse is to research the Internet first, which is fine. But we must remember that not everything is online. For example, some government documents may only be available physically, in government offices. Also, what’s online may not be reliable, so we need to assess whether the source is credible and how the information can be verified.
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You might also be interested in: Importance of the Scientific Method
Andrews Hayes, Patricia, James R. Andrews and Glen Williams (1999). Connecting with your audience. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Bolker, Joan (1998). Writing your thesis: 15 minutes a day. New York: Henry Holt.
Phillips, Estelle M. & Pugh, Derek S. (2003). How to get a PhD. Handbook for Students and Tutors (2nd ed.). Barcelona: Gedisa.